Diagnosis: Murder

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Diagnosis: Murder
Diagnosis murder title card original.png
Title screen used in seasons 1 and 2 of Diagnosis: Murder
Also known as Diagnosis Murder
Format Drama
Created by Joyce Burditt
Starring Dick Van Dyke
Barry Van Dyke
Victoria Rowell
Scott Baio (1993-1995)
Charlie Schlatter (1995-2002)
Michael Tucci (1993-1997)
Delores Hall (1993-1995)
Theme music composer Richard de Benedictis
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 178 + 5 TV Movies + Pilot (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Dean Hargrove
Fred Silverman
Dick Van Dyke
Lee Goldberg
Chris Abbott
William Rabkin
Michael Gleason
Tom Chehak
Gerald Sanoff
Joel Steiger
Producer(s) Viacom Productions, The Fred Silverman Company, Dean Hargrove Productions, and Paramount Network Television (Season 2 only)
Running time 45 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run October 29, 1993 – May 11, 2001
Chronology
Preceded by Mission: Impossible
Mannix
Matlock
Related shows Jake and the Fatman
Promised Land

Diagnosis: Murder is a mystery/medical/crime drama television series starring Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son, a homicide detective played by his real-life son Barry Van Dyke. The series began as a spin-off of Jake and the Fatman (Dr. Mark Sloan made his first appearance in episode 4.19 "It Never Entered My Mind"), became a series of three TV movies, and then a weekly television series that debuted on CBS on October 29, 1993. The series struggled at first and was almost canceled at the end of the second season, it returned as a midseason replacement in the third season, and was regularly renewed thereafter. 178 episodes were made and aired in the show's eight seasons on the CBS network in the United States and two more TV movies aired after the series' cancellation on May 11, 2001. Since 1997, the show aired in reruns on ABC Family (formerly The Family Channel), ION Television (formerly PAX-TV) and on the Hallmark Channel[1] in America, weekdays on the Hallmark Channel (UK), Alibi and Channel 5 (UK) in the United Kingdom and weekdays on Foxtel's TV1 channel in Australia. The show was produced by The Fred Silverman Company and Dean Hargrove Productions in association with Viacom Productions and Paramount Network Television (Season 2 only) and is currently distributed by CBS Television Distribution.

In the Jake and the Fatman episode, Dr. Mark Sloan was a widower with no sons. Dr. Amanda Bentley is played by Cynthia Gibb in the TV movies and, finally, Victoria Rowell in the TV series. Stephen Caffrey played Dr. Jack Parker in the movies, a role that went to Scott Baio as Dr. Jack Stewart in the weekly series.

The first three TV movies were shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. The first few episodes of the series were shot (and set) in Denver, Colorado, before quickly (and without explanation) shifting to Los Angeles for the remainder of the show's run.

Plot[edit]

The plot centered around Dr. Mark Sloan (played by Dick Van Dyke), a renowned physician who occasionally worked for the local police department as a consultant, and who could not resist a good mystery or a friend in need. Those cases often involved his son, Detective Steve Sloan (played by Barry Van Dyke). Helping him was his friend Norman Briggs (played by Michael Tucci in seasons in 1-4), a hospital administrator. Also assisting Dr. Sloan were his colleagues, medical examiner/pathologist Dr. Amanda Bentley (played by Victoria Rowell) and Dr. Jack Stewart (played by Scott Baio in the first two seasons), who later left and was replaced by a new resident, Dr. Jesse Travis (played by Charlie Schlatter from season 3 onwards).[2]

Cast[edit]

Character Played by Position Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Mark Sloan Dick Van Dyke Doctor Main
Amanda Bentley Victoria Rowell Doctor Main
Jack Stewart Scott Baio Doctor Main
Jesse Travis Charlie Schlatter Doctor Main
Norman Briggs Michael Tucci Administrator Main
Delores Mitchell Delores Hall Secretary Main
Steve Sloan Barry Van Dyke Police detective/lieutenant Main
Cast of Diagnosis: Murder between 1993 and 1995
The cast, 1993-1995: Victoria Rowell, Michael Tucci, Barry Van Dyke, Scott Baio, and Delores Hall, with Dick Van Dyke in the center
  • Dr. Mark Sloan (played by Dick Van Dyke), Chief of Internal Medicine at Community General Hospital, and protagonist of the series. Son of a cop and father of another, in whose cases he often gets involved. He is a medical consultant to the LAPD. Dick Van Dyke was considered for the lead role after the positive reviews he received from his dramatic role in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy[citation needed] (although the character he played in the movie was villainous and very different from the role of Mark Sloan). In the pilot the character had interests in tap dance and clarinet playing; however, these were considered distracting and were toned down and eventually removed from the character as the series developed.
  • Lieutenant Detective Steve Sloan (played by Barry Van Dyke), a police detective (later lieutenant) in the Robbery/Homicide Division of the LAPD and Dr. Mark Sloan's son. After an earthquake destroyed his apartment, he lived in a separate apartment in his father's beach house in Malibu. Steve often uses his "patented" dive to apprehend criminals.[3]
  • Dr. Amanda Bentley (played by Cynthia Gibb in the TV Movies set before the series), later Bentley-Livingston (played there by Victoria Rowell), resident Pathologist at Community General Hospital and assistant County Medical Examiner, who is also Dr. Mark Sloan's straightwoman and medical partner, involving in each of Mark's & Steve's cases, after the accident. As a favorable character of the show, she also dated Jack and was later Jesse's best friend. During the series, she married a military man, and had a son named C.J. Depending on the episode, she divorced him or he was killed in an airplane crash. Later in the series, she adopted another boy, Deon.
  • Dr. Jack Stewart (played by Stephen Caffrey in the TV movies, Scott Baio in the series from 1993–1995, seasons 1–2), a doctor at Community General Hospital and Steve's best friend, whom he often helped in his cases. He left to open his own practice in Colorado. Jack Stewart does reappear in a couple of Lee Goldberg's Diagnosis Murder books they are, "The Silent Partner" and "The Last Word". In the first three TV Movies his name was Jack Parker.
  • Dr. Jesse Travis (played by Charlie Schlatter, 1995–2001, seasons 3–8), a resident and handsome student at Community General Hospital who Mark took under his wing and who became best friends with Amanda. Another favorable/breakout character of the series, he often got involved in Mark and Steve's cases, with good intentions but not always good results. During the series, he himself became the prime suspect of the stuntwoman's killing, hence, he badgered Mark to call his old friend Ben Matlock (played by Dick's real-life best friend Andy Griffith) for help. The Hospital staff thought he wrote the tell all book "Big City Hospital" as Dr. Anonymous but was later found out to be somebody else. Jason Tucker was a character in the book and he sounded exactly like Jesse and that's why the hospital thought it was him.
  • Norman Briggs (played by Michael Tucci, 1993–1997, seasons 1–4), administrator at Community General Hospital and a close friend of Dr. Mark Sloan, even though he is often exasperated by him.
  • Delores Mitchell (played by Delores Hall, 1993–1995, seasons 1–2), Dr. Sloan's lively secretary.

Cameos[edit]

One unique aspect of the series was that it frequently appropriated characters from various classic television series.

  • Rob Petrie (played by Van Dyke himself in the Dick Van Dyke Show) features in a cameo in the episode "Obsession, Part 2" where Dr. Sloan is in a radio station, and walks past a studio where (through use of CGI), Rob is trying his hand at radio DJ-ing. The footage of Rob as a DJ is taken from the Dick Van Dyke Show episode "One Hundred Terrible Hours". This scene moves Diagnosis: Murder into the realm of fantasy as Petrie is shown in black and white (with Sloan visible in a color insert behind him), after which Sloan breaks the fourth wall and looks at the audience before the story continues. This Scene will be in the Season 5 episode in the Diagnosis Murder The Complete Collection 51 Disc set.
  • Mike Connors reprised his titular character of Mannix in the season 4 episode "Hard-Boiled Murder". The episode's story was a sequel to the Mannix episode "Little Girl Lost".

Over the run of the show, various episodes guest starred at least eight different members of the Van Dyke family:

Smaller recurring roles[edit]

  • Joanna Cassidy (Season 7) plays Madison Wesley, a doctor friend of Mark Sloan, and Dean of Community General's Medical School. She is in 8 episodes.
  • Kim Little (Seasons 5 and 6) plays Susan Hillard, Jesse's longtime girlfriend, for 10 episodes. In the season 7 episode "Bringing Up Barbie" It is mentioned that she left Jesse to go to Oregon with a male Chiropractor. But in the Diagnosis Murder books which take place after Season 6, she appears in almost every book and Jesse and Susan get Married in the book "The Dead Letter".
  • Susan Gibney (Seasons 5–7) plays Detective Tanis Archer, Steve's partner in 4 episodes. Susan Gibney was also in three other episodes as two different Characters.
  • Charmin Lee (Seasons 7–8) is Steve's second partner Cheryl, who is in 11 episodes between seasons 7 and 8.
  • Martin Kove (Seasons 6–7) is Captain Newman, for 3 episodes.
  • Shane Van Dyke (Seasons 4–8) is Alex Smith, the third year medical student, who appears in 14 episodes. He is also seen as a boxing student in Never Say Die and an actor in Frontier Dad. (Both these episodes star the rest of Barry Van Dyke's children also.)
  • Carey Van Dyke (Seasons 4–8) plays various characters: Mr. Kelso, Terry Marshall, Kyle Lewis, Brendan Kelly, Carl Simpson, and Craig Wilson. In the TV movie "A Town without Pity he plays a character named "Billy".
  • Kevin McNally II (Seasons 3–8) as the ubiquitous EMT in 19 episodes.
  • Tim Conway plays Tim Conrad, an old friend of Mark's and a comedian, in 2 episodes. Conway and Van Dyke had previously worked together on The Carol Burnett Show.
  • Harry J. Lennix (Seasons 5–6) plays Agent Ron Wagner in 6 episodes.
  • Fred Dryer (Season 5) plays Police Chief Masters in 3 episodes.
  • Nancy Youngbut (seasons 4-5) plays Nurse Nancy Rush in 2 episodes.
  • Mariette Hartley (1st and 2nd TV Movies only) plays Kate Hamilton the Administrator at Community General Hospital.
  • Vernee Watson-Johnson (1st and 2nd TV Movies only) plays Esther Wiggins Dr. Mark Sloan's Secretary.
  • Kimberly Quinn (episode "Dance Of Danger" and the TV Movie "Without Warning") plays Ellen Sharp a Tabloid News Reporter who Steve Sloan is Interested in. Steve Proposes to her in the TV Movie "Without Warning" and she says yes.
  • Robert Bailey Jr. (Season 7) plays Colin Jesse or C.J. for short is Amanda Bentley's son. He was born in Season Three of the show and is played by Robert Bailey Jr. in three of the episodes he appeared in. C.J. appeared in a few more episodes before Season 7 as a different child actor.
  • Aaron Meeks (Season 7) plays Deon a boy who Dr. Amanda Bentley adopts. He appears in 3 episodes.

Guest Stars[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Diagnosis: Murder had a total of eight seasons and 178 episodes which were broadcast on CBS between 1993 and 2001.

Locations\ Administrators[edit]

Denver, Colorado location[edit]

The first season’s filming commenced in July 1993 in Denver, Colorado. Much of the cast as well as the production company personnel from Viacom stayed in the (then) Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown, located at 19th Street between Curtis and Arapahoe. Among the reasons that production of Diagnosis: Murder was located in Denver was because the same production people had already been working there since about 1990 filming the new Perry Mason made for TV movies.

At that same time, Raymond Burr and his associates were busily filming their episodes for Perry Mason. In and around the Embassy Suites Hotel at that time, it was not unusual to see several semi-trailers parked street-side in support of the production at various office or exterior locations in and around downtown Denver.

Both series were produced by the Hargrove, Silverman team with Viacom. Therefore, the business decision to combine both productions at the same location was evident. While the Perry Mason series was often filmed in a special courtroom constructed for the production within The Denver City and County Building, Diagnosis: Murder was temporarily set at the then recently closed St. Luke’s Hospital on 19th Street just east of downtown.

When Raymond Burr became terminally ill later that summer, he was no longer seen at the hotel after having filmed his last episode, The Case of the Killer Kiss (1993). In fact, upon his demise, Paul Sorvino was seen entering the hotel building to begin filming what was to be the last Perry Mason episode ever filmed in Denver, - A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives (1993). Upon completion of that filming, Viacom and the entire production company left Denver in late September, early October 1993, including that of Diagnosis: Murder. Thus, only the Diagnosis: Murder episodes filmed from mid-July through September of 1993 were shot in Denver, after which production shifted permanently to Los Angeles.

Community General Hospital[edit]

Community General Hospital is the main set for the show. It is six to seven floors depending on the episode. It holds about 400 beds, with three trauma rooms, two psych wards, and one Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Mark Sloan is Chief of Internal Medicine. The Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills, California was used as the exterior of Community General Hospital in the final three seasons of the show (it was also used as a casino in the pilot of CSI).

List of Administrators at Community General Hospital

  1. Russell Havilland (was The Administrator at Clairemont Hospital in the Pilot of Diagnosis: Murder, "It Never Entered My Mind". He was murdered and Dr. Mark Sloan was framed for his murder.)
  2. Kate Hamilton (was The Administrator at Community General Hospital in The 1st and 2nd Diagnosis: Murder TV Movies. It was said in the Diagnosis: Murder book "The Shooting Script" that Kate Hamilton decided to sell her home and use the proceeds to open a nonprofit food bank in the inner city.
  3. Norman Briggs (was The Administrator of Community General Hospital for the first 4 seasons of Diagnosis: Murder. According to the book "The Shooting Script" it sounds like Norman was fired by the new owners Healthcorp International.)
  4. Harold Lomax ( he appeared in a few episodes like "Do No Harm" and "Today is The Last Day of the Rest of My Life". In the book "The Shooting Script" When Community General Hospital was sold to Healthcorp International they brought in General Harold Lomax who'd spent ten years running battlefield medical operations for the U.S. Marine Corps. Harold Lomax later resigned with an Extreme case of Irritable Bowel syndrome and left behind a hospital literally in ruins, decimated by a serial bomber "Catlin Sweeney" who was stalking Mark for putting her brother "Carter Sweeney" in prison.
  5. Noah Dent (he appeared in the books "The Shooting Script" and "The last Word". He ended up being hired by the new owners of the hospital "Hollywood International" and had a personal vendetta against Mark Sloan for Catching "Tanya" who murdered a rapist who raped her and killed a homeless War Veteran who seen her kill him. He ended up firing Mark, Amanda, and Jesse's girlfriend Susan. Jesse ended up finding out and blackmailed mailed him into giving everyone back their jobs. He ended up leaving Community General Hospital.
  6. Janet Dorcott (she appeared in the book "The Last Word". She ended up firing Jesse and Susan Travis, after being framed for Murder and Amanda Bentley was also fired for selling body parts from dead bodies and fired Mark because she blamed him for all the scandal around Community General Hospital.

BBQ Bob's[edit]

BBQ Bob's is a restaurant that Jesse Travis and Steve Sloan co-own starting in the sixth season. Mark Sloan is also a silent partner. It is located in a small strip mall very close to Community General Hospital. Other stores around it include a jewelry store, travel agency and a bank. It is often frequented by the hospital staff as an alternative to the hospital cafeteria. All staff members get discounts. The exterior of BBQ Bob's was based on a storefront at the Whizin's Center in Agoura, California, where exterior scenes of BBQ Bob's were occasionally filmed.

Mark's house[edit]

In the first two seasons of the show Mark Sloan lived in a house at 6544 Colorado Drive, Los Angeles.

The Sloans' beach house[edit]

Starting in the third season, Mark and Steve Sloan live in a beach house at 3231 Beach Drive, Malibu, with Steve in the basement. The basement was often redressed to act as other sets. The actual house is on Broad Beach Road in Malibu, CA.

Pilot\TV movies[edit]

Pilot[edit]

The Pilot of Diagnosis: Murder was called "It Never Entered My Mind" from Jake and The Fatman. In the Pilot Mark Sloan was a widower with no sons. The Hospital is called Clairemont Hospital instead of Community General Hospital, and there is no Jack or Amanda. His friends who helped him clear his name are,

  1. Richard (Steven Eckholdt)
  2. Josie (Alley Walker)
  3. Thad (Kristoff St. John)

TV movies[edit]

Diagnosis: Murder had five TV movies between 1992 and 2002, three of which aired prior to the TV series.

  • Diagnosis of Murder, the first TV movie, aired before the regular series, January 5, 1992 on CBS.
  • The House on Sycamore Street, the second TV movie, aired before the regular series, May 1, 1992 on CBS.
  • A Twist of the Knife, the third TV movie, aired before the regular series, February 13, 1993 on CBS.
  • A Town Without Pity, the fourth TV movie, aired after the end of the regular series, February 6, 2002 on CBS.
  • Diagnosis Murder: Without Warning, the fifth and final TV movie, aired after the end of the regular series, April 26, 2002 on CBS.

Nested Pilots[edit]

Fred Silverman insisted that every season the series devotes one episode to be a nested Pilot. Known Nested Pilots are,

Season One[edit]

  1. Sister Michael Wants You- Would have starred Delta Burke as Sister Michael a crime solving Nun.

Season Two[edit]

  1. How To Murder Your Lawyer- Would have starred Mitchell Whitfield and Leah Remini as Crime solving Lawyers Arnold Baskin and Agnes Benedetto.
  2. Georgia On My Mind- Might have been a possible Nested pilot about a female Private Investigator Georgia (Daphne Ashbrook).

Season Three[edit]

There are no known Nested Pilots for sure this season but there are a couple possibles,

A. 35 Millimeter Murder- A picture taken by a Paparazzo Vic Slovak (Stephen Furst) provides a clue in a kidnapping and murder case.

B. Left Handed Murder- About A Man who had three Wives, and then he was murdered and they tried to be friends.

Season Four[edit]

  1. An Explosive Murder- Starred Tracy Gold as a undercover officer Amy Dawson.

Season Five[edit]

  1. A Mime is a Terrible Thing To Waste- Which was a spinoff for a unsold series pilot with no known name. Rachael York plays Randy Wolfe who's apparently an expert at everything.

2. Retribution Parts One and Two- Retribution was a Nested Pilot for a spinoff called The Chief, and would have starred Fred Dryer as Police Chief Masters.

Season Six[edit]

  1. Blood Ties- Stars Two vice unit Detectives, Detective Amy Devlin (Kathy Evison), and Detective Taylor Lucas (Zoe McLellan). It was a nested pilot for a TV series that would have been named Whistlers.

Season Seven[edit]

It is not known for sure if there were any nested pilots for this season. There is a possible pilot it is,

  1. Murder At BBQ Bobs- It is a possible Pilot that starred Jenya Lano as Warrant Officer Hannah Bernstein.

Season Eight[edit]

It is not known if there were any nested pilots this season but there is a possible pilot it is,

  1. By Reason Of Insanity might have been a possible Pilot about a schizophrenic who solves crimes and once was a doctor.

Novels[edit]

Between 2003 and 2007, there have been eight original novels published based on the TV series. All of them were written by Lee Goldberg, a former executive producer and writer on the TV series. According to his website,[4] there will be no more books based on the show. The books are, in order:

  • Diagnosis Murder: The Silent Partner
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Death Merchant
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Shooting Script
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Waking Nightmare
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Past Tense
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Double Life
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Last Word

The Past Tense is a prequel to the episode Voices Carry, which guest-starred Jack Klugman as Harry Trumble, and chronicles Dr. Mark Sloan's first homicide investigation. The final book in the series, The Last Word, is a sequel of sorts to the episodes Obsession and Resurrection and features the return of Carter Sweeney, who was played by Arye Gross in the TV series.

Crossover with Monk[edit]

Two of the characters in The Death Merchant later reappeared in Lee Goldberg's series of novels based on the television series Monk:

Fictional TV Shows\Misc.[edit]

Medical TV Shows[edit]

In the series there were a several fictional Medical shows that appeared they are,

  1. Doctor Danger (appeared in the episodes "Must Kill TV" and "Trash TV" parts 1 and 2)
  2. The New Healers (appeared in the Season 2 episode "The New Healers")
  3. Medical Squad (appeared in the Season 8 episode "Less Than Zero")
  4. Calling Dr. Gale (was Mentioned in the episode "The New Healers")
  5. Hot House (appeared in the Season 8 episode "Hot House")
  6. When Operations Go Bad (appeared in the episodes "Trash TV" parts 1 and 2)
  7. Celebrity Autopsies ( was mentioned in the episodes "Trash TV" parts 1 and 2)
  8. Fatal Facelifts Gone Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! (was mentioned in the episode "Trash TV parts 1 and 2)
  9. Dr. Doolittle P.I. (was a possible pilot and mentioned in the episode "Must Kill TV")
  10. Vaughn Roberts M.D (mentioned in the episode "Frontier Dad")
  11. Jackson Burley said that he did 5 Medical TV shows.

Other TV shows[edit]

There have been several fictional TV series mentioned in the series. Most TV series were mentioned in the episodes "Must Kill TV" and "Trash TV parts 1 and 2".